Shortly after the checkered flag dropped at the last 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at the Motul Petit Le Mans, 3GT Racing’s Technical Director, John Gentilozzi, began thinking about how best to use the 46 days in April, between races.
Six weeks is a long time between the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series race at Sebring and the race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Mansfield, Ohio. Especially for a team that has never raced at Mid-Ohio. Mid-Ohio has not been a part of the IMSA WeatherTech series since 2012.
Being a Michigan-based team, 3GT Racing knew full well how risky April weather can be in the Midwest. The team selected April 23 for the test date and it turned out to be a smart choice. The winter of 2017, in Michigan and northern Ohio, had been slow to develop into a warm spring and teams that tried to test earlier in April had to cancel because of snow.
The test was especially important for the 3GT Racing drivers who had never raced GTD at Mid-Ohio. Jack Hawksworth, driver in the No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3, had raced Indy car at the track in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He pointed out that the track may be the same but it’s very different when you’re driving a GTD car.
“Sure, the track is the same, but the corner speeds are different just because of the car,” Hawksworth said. “It helped a lot to test. From a driver perspective, anytime you can be on the track it’s helpful. The more times you go, the better it is.”
Kyle Marcelli, in the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3, had accrued GTD driving experience at Mid-Ohio in 2016 and 2017. He worked closely with Gentilozzi before the 3GT test to put together a few pointers for drivers Dominik Baumann and David Heinemeier Hansson, Heinemeier Hansson raced ALM at the course in 2012, but both were new to racing GTD on the 15-turn, 2.4-mile road race course with unusual elevation changes.
“With any track there are nuances, details that take a little bit to learn,” Marcelli said. “Like bumps and which curves you can use to your advantage. I expected everybody would get up to speed quickly, and they did. But I was glad to be able to provide a few particulars that might have taken more laps to learn.”
The May 6 Mid-Ohio race is the third in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series and the first of the seven sprint races of the season. The first two races of the season included the 24 Hours at Daytona and the 12-Hours of Sebring. The upcoming sprint races run 2-hours, 40 minutes.
“You prepare for sprint races like any other race,” Marcelli said. “But we’re going in with a bit more expectation. For the first six hours of Daytona, and at Sebring, we were running top three. So, I know that we have the whole package, the drivers and the cars, that do well in sprint races. I’m setting a high bar for myself and thinking that there is no reason to believe we won’t be on the podium at Mid-Ohio.”
Gentilozzi said that testing at a new track is also important for the team. To find the perfect setup, the team prefers to grind out a lot of iterations. And there’s never enough time during a normal race event, especially if the track is new to the series.
“Sometimes when you go to a new track, you can reference other, similar, tracks to generate a good setup,” Gentilozzi said. “Mid-Ohio is unique due to the composition of the pavement, the banking of the corners and the elevation changes. It requires some different setup concepts than what we use at other circuits. But with two cars running for a full day you can get a lot of work done. I think we hit on a good combination during the test and we are excited to get back to the track and see how we measure up. “
The 2-hour, 40-minute race at Mid-Ohio will start at 1:05 p.m. on Sunday, May 6.
About 3GT Racing
3GT Racing was formed to race the Lexus RC F GT3. Owned and operated by five-time Trans-Am Series Champion, Paul Gentilozzi and his longtime partners, Tony and John Gentilozzi, the East Lansing, Michigan-based team principals have been involved in motorsports for more than 48 years and have claimed more than 75 victories and 15 manufacturer and driver championships.
Kyle Marcelli drives the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3